Exploring Gender Identity

Progress Pride flag.

About Gender Identity

Gender identity is very fluid. One person’s expression of masculinity could be completely different from another person's expression of it. The same can be true for femininity. Some express both masculinity and femininity at the same time, and others may express both on an alternating basis.

Titles Exploring Gender Identity

Here are a few (I got a little carried away, so maybe several instead of a few) graphic novels where characters explore their gender identities and how they influence the world around them.

 

Manga Fans

Wandering Son, book cover

Wandering Son by Takako Shimura

The fifth grade. The threshold to puberty, and the beginning of the end of childhood innocence. Shuichi Nitori and his new friend Yoshino Takatsuki have happy homes, loving families, and are well-liked by their classmates. But they share a secret that further complicates a time of life that is awkward for anyone: Shuichi is a boy who wants to be a girl, and Yoshino is a girl who wants to be a boy.

Boys Run The Riot, book cover

Boys Run The Riot by Keito Gaku

High schooler Ryo knows he’s transgender, but he doesn’t have anyone to confide in about the confusion he feels. He can’t tell his best friend, who he’s secretly got a crush on, and he can’t tell his mom, who’s constantly asking why Ryo “dresses like a boy.” He certainly can’t tell Jin, the new transfer student who looks like just another bully… The only time Ryo feels at ease is when he’s wearing his favorite clothes. Then, and only then, the world melts away, and he can be his true self. One day, while out shopping, Ryo sees someone he didn’t expect: Jin. The kid who looked so tough in class has the same taste in fashion as him! At last, Ryo has someone he can open up to—and the journey ahead might finally give him a way to express himself to the world.

Love Me For Who I Am, book cover

Love Me For Who I Am by Kata Konayama

Mogumo is a cute but lonely non-binary high school student who just wants a few loving friends. As someone who doesn’t identify as a boy or a girl, however, finding people who really understand can be a big challenge. When fellow student Iwaoka Tetsu invites Mogumo to work at an untraditional maid café, Mogumo is hopeful that things are looking up. Will they finally find friends to call their own—or just more misunderstanding?

Our Dreams At Dusk, book cover

Our Dreams At Dusk by Yuhki Kamatani

Not only is high schooler Tasuku Kaname the new kid in town, he is also terrified that he has been outed as gay. Just as he’s contemplating doing the unthinkable, Tasuku meets a mysterious woman who leads him to a group of people dealing with problems not so different from his own.

Graphic Novels

Galaxy: The Prettiest Star, book cover

Galaxy: The Prettiest Star by Jadzia Axelrod

Taylor Barzelay has the perfect life. Good looks, good grades, a starting position on the basketball team, a loving family, even an adorable corgi. Every day in Taylor’s life is perfect. And every day is torture.

Taylor is actually the Galaxy Crowned, an alien princess from the planet Cyandii, and one of the few survivors of an intergalactic war. For six long, painful years, Taylor has accepted her duty to remain in hiding as a boy on Earth.

That all changes when Taylor meets Metropolis girl Katherine “call me Kat” Silverberg, whose confidence is electrifying. Suddenly, Taylor no longer wants to hide, even if exposing her true identity could attract her greatest enemies. 

Magical Boy, book cover

Magical Boy by Kao Studios

Although he was assigned female at birth, Max is your average trans man trying to get through high school as himself. But on top of classes, crushes, and coming out, Max's life is turned upside down when his mom reveals an eons old family secret: he's descended from a long line of Magical Girls tasked with defending humanity from a dark, ancient evil! With a sassy feline sidekick and loyal gang of friends by his side, can Max take on his destiny, save the world, and become the next Magical Boy?

As The Crow Flies, book cover

As The Crow Flies by Melanie Gillman

Charlie Lamonte is thirteen years old, queer, black, and questioning what was once a firm belief in God. So naturally, she's spending a week of her summer vacation stuck at an all-white Christian youth backpacking camp. As the journey wears on and the rhetoric wears thin, she can't help but poke holes in the pious obliviousness of this storied sanctuary with little regard for people like herself . . . or her fellow camper, Sydney.

Gender Queer: A Memoir, book cover

Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe

In 2014, Maia Kobabe, who uses e/em/eir pronouns, thought that a comic of reading statistics would be the last autobiographical comic e would ever write. At the time, it was the only thing e felt comfortable with strangers knowing about em. Now, Gender Queer is here. Maia’s intensely cathartic autobiography charts eir journey of self-identity, which includes the mortification and confusion of adolescent crushes, grappling with how to come out to family and society, bonding with friends over erotic gay fanfiction, and facing the trauma and fundamental violation of pap smears.

Started as a way to explain to eir family what it means to be nonbinary and asexual, Gender Queer is more than a personal story: it is a useful and touching guide on gender identity—what it means and how to think about it—for advocates, friends, and humans everywhere.

 

BONUS! Kids Content

The Deep & Dark Blue, book cover

The Deep & Dark Blue by Niki Smith

After a terrible political coup usurps their noble house, Hawke and Grayson flee to stay alive and assume new identities, Hanna and Grayce. Desperation and chance lead them to the Communion of Blue, an order of magical women who spin the threads of reality to their will. As the twins learn more about the Communion, and themselves, they begin to hatch a plan to avenge their family and retake their royal home. While Hawke wants to return to his old life, Grayce struggles to keep the threads of her new life from unraveling, and realizes she wants to stay in the one place that will allow her to finally live as a girl.

Snapdragon, book cover

Snapdragon by Kat Leyh

Snap's town had a witch. At least, that's how the rumor goes. But in reality, Jacks is just a crocks-wearing, internet-savvy old lady who sells roadkill skeletons online--after doing a little ritual to put their spirits to rest. It's creepy, sure, but Snap thinks it's kind of cool, too. They make a deal: Jacks will teach Snap how to take care of the baby opossums that Snap rescued, and Snap will help Jacks with her work. But as Snap starts to get to know Jacks, she realizes that Jacks may in fact have real magic--and a connection with Snap's family's past.

Girl Haven, book cover

Girl Haven by Lilah Sturges

Three years ago, Ash’s mom left home and never returned, leaving behind a husband and child and a shed full of mystical curiosities related to the all-girl fantasy world she’d created as a child—Koretris. One day Ash invites a new group of friends from Pride Club over, and they try one of the spells to enter Koretris. To their amazement, they’re all transported to a magical realm filled with human-sized talking animals who are fiercely protective of their world and are ready to fight to protect it. But if Koretris is real, why is Ash there? Everyone has always called Ash a boy—shouldn’t the spell have kept Ash out? And what does it mean if it let Ash in? 

The Tea Dragon Festival, book cover

The Tea Dragon Festival by K. O'Neill

Rinn has grown up the Tea Dragons that inhabit their village, but stumbling across a real dragon turns out to be a different matter entirely! Aedhan is a young dragon who was appointed to protect the village, but fell asleep in the forest eighty years ago. With the aid of Rinn's adventuring uncle Erik and his partner Hesekiel, they investigate the mystery of his enchanted sleep... but Rinn's real challenge is to help Aedhan come to terms with feeling that he cannot get back the time he has lost.

Blog Category
Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
Graphic Novels
LGBTQ+

Add new comment

Comments are expected to follow the basic rules of civility and be relevant to the topic being commented upon. Comments will be reviewed prior to posting. Blog comments represent the views of the person commenting, not necessarily those of San José Public Library. For more information see SJPL's Comment Guidelines.